Racial and Ethnic Minority Issues in Multiculturalism

Another important dimension of diversity is race and ethnicity. Many cultural differences exist between racial and ethnic and minority groups such as Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans. And within each of these minority groupings there are tremendous differences. Yet members of all these groups have experienced the challenges of working in a multicultural setting where their own cultural heritage was devalued. On this basis, John Fernandez claims that each of these US minority groups share a common history while maintaining certain uniqueness.

Reaching the top:

Although over 30 percent of the US population consists of racial minorities, very few minority members have made it to the top of large organizations. Detailed analysis of the problems of diversity from that of 15 typical large corporations indicated only 8 percent of the middle managers and 2 percent of senior managers were people of color. Further, it can be seen that the biases against people of color being in position of authority by looking at professional sports. In professional sports an area where African Americans have supposedly excelled. African Americans represents 72 percent of the basketball players but only 11 percent of the head coaches; in football they are 60 percent of the players but only 7 percent of the head coaches; and in baseball they represent 18 percent of the players and 8 percent of the managers.

Earnings Gap: In addition, statistics reveal earning gaps, which are discrepancies between the earnings power of workers of similar educational backgrounds but different races. For example a white worker with a bachelor’s degree earns an average annual salary of $44,426. A similarly qualified African American earns an average annual salary of $34,290 and Hispanic Americans earn $33,817. The gap actually widens among the more educated.

The reasons for the earnings gap are complex, but they do serve as an indication that discrimination still exist in the workplace.

Revolving Door: Out of frustration with discrimination and the perception that there is little chance for advancement, many minorities (and women) simply leave their jobs and start their own businesses. This can lead to a revolving door syndrome – companies may find it difficult to keep minority employees who feel uncomfortable in the company environment, leading to additional perceptions that minorities just do not fit in.

Other Issues in Multiculturalism:

Gender, race, and ethnicity are not the only elements of multiculturalism. If an organization is to value the contributions of all its members, then its approach to multiculturalism must include issues such as age and sexual orientation.

Ageism: In spite of the aging of the workforce, many managers still fail to place adequate value on older workers, even though restrictions on mandatory retirement have eased. Between 1990 and 1992 age-bias complaints to the EEOC increased more than 30 percent from 14,000 to 19,000.

Sexual Orientation: The presence of homosexuals in the workplace poses many issues for the development of a multicultural workplace. In the past most homosexuals kept sexual orientation hidden or in the closet. Today increasing numbers have declared or are grappling with the possibility of openly declaring their sexual orientation even though they recognize that it could jeopardize their jobs. According to Al Lewis, planning manager at Zerox, official or unofficial there is a gay group in every large company in US. Most are closeted.

One work related difficulty for homosexuals who do openly declare their sexual orientation is the negotiation of benefits. Although the law in most jurisdictions forbids marriage between homosexuals, many rely up on benefits packages that recognize marriage like relationships and provide benefits for mates.